A Place at the Table: Day 24

Saturday – I made my fried rice again. I also gave eating the rice first followed by the pb&b for lunch another go.  It did seem to make a difference today. So far I have not been hungry.  Of course, I stuffed my face last night at the Silver Diner so  I may not have needed to eat too much in any event. I had a flat iron steak with garlic spinach, onion straws, and mashed potatoes. We also got a free plate of fries thanks to a mixup with one of the orders. Brownie sundaes topped it all off with fudgy, whipped-creamy bliss.

NPR’s Weekend Edition filled the house this morning, as it does most Saturdays. Scott Simon is one of my very favorite newscasters.  I listened as I ate my fried rice. They ran a story about how our current economic reality (the “new normal”) has changed people’s lives.  One man, formerly a property manager, is now earning $9.00 per hour doing custodial work. He had $4.00 left in his checking account after paying his mortgage last month. Prolonged unemployment has forced one 51-year-old woman to move back in with her parents – into the same small room she slept in as a child.  Everyone interviewed for the story had been looking for work for more than a year.

While we were eating at the Silver Diner, my daughters became enthralled with the happenings at the FedEx Office store next door.  From our table, we could see clearly what was going through the large windows.  My bumbling attempt to explain to their four-year-old selves what FedEx Office probably heightened their interest.  At one point I looked up and saw a woman standing beside one of the copy machines, gazing back at us with a longing but seemingly empty stare.  I don’t know if she could see us as clearly as we could see her (I assume so).  Her gaze lingered for some time.  I gazed back, wondering who she was and what had brought her to a copy center on a Friday night – until I got another request to put yet another quarter in the juke box to play the Scooby-Doo theme yet again.  When I looked back, she was gone.

After dinner, we went to run a few errands. The parking lots of all the restaurants we passed seemed to be full – Red Lobster, Joe’s Crab Shack, Outback Steakhouse, you name it.  It was quite a contrast to the Weekend Edition report. Looking at all those cars and all those restaurants, you’d never know that report had aired.  You’d never know there was a report to air.  Of course, this is metro DC and things are different here inside the Beltway.  I-495 is basically eight lanes of insulation between Washington and reality. But even here, there are lingering stares that tells a deeper, more complicated story.  And heaven knows she’s not alone.  We wouldn’t have been eating out except that it was my (belated) birthday and I received a monetary gift that made it possible.

Lord, we do indeed see through a glass darkly.  Clarify our vision and give us courage to confront the realities around us – in your name and for your sake.  Amen.

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